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'The Ritual' TIFF 2017 Review: 'The Wicker Man' meets 'Predator'

September 9, 2017Ben MK

From Wrong Turn to The Descent, the sub-genre of horror films that feature a group of friends venturing into the wilderness, only to encounter something unspeakable along the way, is like a road well-traveled.

Enter The Ritual, a slow-burning tale of terror that sees four college buddies — Luke (Rafe Spall), Dom (Sam Troughton), Phil (Arsher Ali) and Hutch (Robert James-Collier) — journeying to a remote region of Northern Sweden, to pay their respects to another friend who was murdered six months earlier. After taking a shortcut through the forest, however, things turn sinister, and soon the men find themselves being hunted by a malevolent creature — one that appears to be linked to strange pagan markings scattered throughout the area.

More psychological than visceral, The Ritual isn't without its share of gore. However, Bruckner and screenwriter Joe Barton are far more keen on telling a story about characters plagued by personal demons. The result attempts to go beyond our primal fears and explore less contrived territory, although its final destination remains the same.

The Ritual is receiving its North American premiere as part of TIFF 2017's Midnight Madness programme. Its runtime is 1 hr. 35 min.

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